Litchfield Jazz Festival

Litchfield Jazz Festival

Saturday, Jul 27, 2019 at 2:00pm


Schedule of Events:

2:00 PM Duchess

Duchess, founded in 2013 by New York singers Amy Cervini, Hilary Gardner and Melissa Stylianou, has already been anointed by jazz critics. The group just placed second in the JazzTimes Critic’s Poll in the company of legends Take 6, New York Voices, and The Manhattan Transfer. Inspired by the music of the 1930’s and the virtuosic Boswell Sisters, they’ve created a wonderfully entertaining and contemporary package. With two critically acclaimed albums on Anzic Records under their belts, The New Yorker had this to say about this enchanting group: “(they) whip up music that traffics in delight!” What more could you ask for?

Amy Cervini, Toronto-bred and New York-based, released her 5th solo album No One Ever Tells You on Anzic. She has performed around the world from Jerusalem to Monterey in concert halls and jazz clubs from Carnegie Hall to The Jazz Standard. The All Music Guide recommends her recordings for the “honest, self-assured and honey-dripping presence clearly heard.”

Hilary Gardner began her career singing in dive bars in her native Wasilla, Alaska and singing along with records by Ella Fitzgerald, Carmen McRae, and Joni Mitchell. Trying her luck in New York in 2003, her eclectic path has included commercial jingles, guesting with Jeff Goldblum at Café Carlyle, a cameo on a Moby record, and performing the national anthem at CitiField for New York Mets. In 2010 she appeared on Broadway in Twyla Tharp’s Come Fly Away and, more recently, sang (and she notes wore a fabulous dress) in Errol Morris’ critically acclaimed Netflix documentary-drama, Wormwood.

Melissa Stylianou, is a Toronto native and, like her mates, a New York transplant. She has five discs to her credit now. The most recent, No Regrets, recorded live on Anzic, teamed her with pianist Bruce Barth, bassist Linda Oh, drummer Matt Wilson, clarinetist Anat Cohen and saxophonist Billy Drewes. She has sung in New York at Carnegie Hall, Symphony Space, Joe’s Pub, Blue Note, Birdland and Jazz Standard and performed with Joel Frahm, John Hart, Orlando le Fleming, Helen Sung, Gene Bertoncini and others. Stylianou like her Duchess colleagues is a dedicated teacher, giving classes for young children and adults at the 92nd Street Y.

3:30 PM Randy Brecker and The Chad LB Quartet

The New York Daily News called Chad Lefkowitz-Brown (or Chad LB these days) a “sax phenom.” At 30, he has already toured globally as a soloist and with jazz stars and pop icons like Arturo O’Farrill, Chris Botti, and Taylor Swift. The Chad LB Quartet will perform at this year’s LJF with Randy Brecker.

Randy Brecker, five time-Grammy winning trumpeter, flugelhornist and composer, has helped shape the sound of jazz, R&B and rock for more than four decades. His performances have graced hundreds of albums by artists like James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen and Parliament/Funkadelic, Frank Sinatra, Steely Dan, Jaco Pastorius and Frank Zappa. A product of a musical family, Brecker’s earliest “big time” professional gigs were with the bands of Clark Terry, Duke Pearson and Thad Jones /Mel Lewis.

In the late 60s he ventured into jazz-rock with the now iconic Blood, Sweat and Tears, then moved on to the Horace Silver Quintet. His first solo album, in 1968, featured an unknown 19-year-old tenor player, his brother Michael Brecker. Randy next joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and then teamed up with Michael, Barry Rogers, Billy Cobham, and John Abercrombie as the seminal fusion group Dreams.

From 1975 to 1982 he and Michael fronted the world renowned Brecker Brothers Band. This influential group won seven Grammy nominations. Parting ways to pursue solo careers, the two reunited in 1992 for a world tour and the triple-Grammy nominated GRP recording, The Return of the Brecker Brothers. In 2004 Randy toured as co-leader with Bill Evans of the band Soulbop. With that group he played for the last time with Michael who succumbed to leukemia in 2007, despite exhaustive attempts by the jazz community to find a bone marrow donor.

The first of Brecker’s Grammys came in 1997 with his impressions of Brazil on Into the Sun’(Concord), a third in 2007 for Randy Brecker Live with the WDR Big Band (Telarc/BHM) and the last with Michael, at the Leverkusen Jazz Fest, and the most recent, Randy in Brazil. In 2011The Jazz Ballad Song Book: Randy Brecker with the Danish Radio Big Band and The Danish National Chamber Orchestra, garnered four Grammy nominations. In 2012, Sony Legacy recaptured history with release of The Brecker Brothers – The Complete Arista Albums Collection. A Brecker Brothers Band Reunion tour of European festivals in 2013 re-introduced familiar faces from the past to sell-out crowds-Dave Sanborn, Mike Stern (who will performing at LJF Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon), Will Lee, Dave Weckl, and George Whitty. Ada Rovatti, Randy’s talented wife, sat in the ‘hot saxophone’ seat, keeping it all in the family.

Randy Brecker continues to compose and perform and is in demand as a Yamaha clinician. This is his first appearance on the Litchfield stage since 2001 when he joined us and the Don Braden Octet.

A native of Elmira, New York, Chad Lefkowitz-Brown began performing at 11 under George Reed, known for backing legends Teddy Wilson, Buddy Tate, and Marian McPartland. He received his formal education at the Brubeck Institute, a selective fellowship program at the University of the Pacific. There he performed with Mr. Brubeck and as a member of the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet. His early accolades include 15 DownBeat Magazine Student Music Awards. He is a member of the multi-Grammy award winning Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra and is on faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory. Downbeat Magazine selected his latest release, Onward, as 2017 Editor’s Pick and said his “technical abilities mask the difficulty of his wondrously intricate lines.”

Chad has performed on four continents and appeared at Carnegie Hall, the Super Bowl, and Madison Square Garden. His debut album, Imagery Manifesto, was named “Debut Album of the Year” by jazz critic, Doug Ramsey. Onward, his newest effort, features Randy Brecker.

This is Chad’s first appearance at Litchfield Jazz Festival– if you do not include the year he played with his Litchfield Jazz Camp Combo as a kid! Like so many young headliners who appear later on the Litchfield fest stage, bandmates are often friends from camp days. Jimmy McBride, the Chad JB drummer, was a Litchfield Jazz Camper for many years and one of our youngest ever. Vita Muir who considered him for scholarship first heard him as leader of Jimmy & the Has Beens – his bandmates consisting of his father, a Haart School professor/pianist and other “oldtimers.” Jimmy was eight at the time and proudly announced at the Camp’s first meeting, “I”m nine now.”

Steven Feifke, on piano, Raviv Markovitz, on bass, complete the CHAD LB QUARTET.

5:30 PM Goodbye to Childhood - A Tribute to Herbie Hancock’s Masterpiece “Speak Like a Child” - Carmen Staaf, piano

Pianist Carmen Staaf, winner of the 2009 Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Pianist Competition, was chosen for the prestigious Thelonious Monk Institute in 2014. Back on the road, now with a Master’s degree in hand, she’s wasted no time.

In 2017 she recorded the critically acclaimed Science Fair with drummer Allison Miller, Ambrose Akinmusire, Dayna Stephens and Matt Penman. She performs regularly with Miller’s Boom Tic Boom. Last Summer she toured as Music Director with Dee Dee Bridgewater. Carmen has appeared on the Playboy Festival with Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, at Jazz at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis, at Kennedy Center alongside Kenny Barron and Fred Hersh and at major jazz clubs and festivals worldwide. An active educator, she has served on faculty at Berklee, New School, Stanford Jazz Institute, Swarbabhoomi Academy of Music, Chennai, India, and Jacob’s Pillow. She also serves on the piano faculty at Litchfield Jazz Camp. This is her third appearance at Litchfield Jazz Festival.

Carmen, arranger as well as pianist for the sextet, has chosen to use the same instrumentation Mr. Hancock did on the original recording. She is proud to include, on bass, Avery Sharpe. Avery is perhaps best known for a two-decade stint with the great McCoy Tyner. Reggie Workman convinced him to master in bass at UMASS where he was studying economics-and soon he was performing with Art Blakey, Archie Shepp, Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis and Pat Metheny. Avery is a long-time faculty member at Litchfield Jazz Camp. This is his 9th appearance at the Festival. Don Braden, on alto flute, is a world-renowned saxophonist, recording artist, producer, educator and composer. He has been Music Director of Litchfield Jazz Camp for 23 years. Dave Ballou, on flugelhorn, is Professor of Music at Towson University and another long-time Camp faculty member and Fest featured artist. He has worked with Clark Terry, Sheila Jordan, Dewey Redman, Andrew Hill and Dave Liebman and has been a member of noted big bands including Maria Schneider’s, Woody Herman’s Young Thundering Herd and The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. Jen Wharton is on bass trombone. Wharton, who has deep roots in jazz, commercial, chamber and Broadway music, says that, “like a virus, I won’t stop until I have conquered the world!” She is a member of two multiple Grammy-nominated ensembles, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society and Alan Ferber Big Band. She has performed with Dizzy Gillespie All Star Band, Ken Peplowski Big Band, DIVA, and Arturo O’Farrill & the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, among others. She teaches at Montclair State University.

7:00 PM Mike Stern Band

Mike Stern has played for over three decades with everybody who is anybody in jazz. A 6-time Grammy nominated guitarist, he was named one of the 75 best guitarists of all time by Down Beat Magazine and received Guitar Player magazines’ Certified Legend Award in 2012. Born Michael Sedgwick in 1953, he took his stepfather’s name. He is, in fact, the half-brother of actress and Litchfield County resident, Kyra Sedgwick.

Mike graduated from Berklee College of Music and, at 22, joined the now iconic band Blood, Sweat and Tears. He then teamed up with Billy Cobham and, later, Miles Davis in the trumpeter’s comeback band with Marcus Miller, Al Foster and Bill Evans. In 1992 he became a member of the Brecker Brothers Band. Other notable collaborators include Jaco Pastorius, Don Alias, Kenny Garrett and Bela Fleck. Mike has 17 recordings as a leader and tours and performs around the world. In 2017, after recovering from a serious shoulder injury that sidelined him for the 2016 summer, he formed a new band, the Mike Stern/Randy Brecker Band for a successful European tour.

Mike Stern appears for the third and fourth time at this 24th annual Litchfield Jazz Festival, with Danny Walsh, saxophone, Edmond Gilmore, bass, and Richie Morales, drums. His latest CD Trip on the Heads Up Label features, among others, Randy Brecker. Jazz is a small world! And Litchfield Jazz is delighted to be a small part of it!